Our view

Learning to swim is a top priority

July 6, 2014 

Jason Cousar, 6, gets swim lessons from instructor Hunter Mullis, 17, at the Northside Recreation Center’s pool.

RACHEL SOUTHMAYD — rsouthmayd@heraldonline.com

  • In summary

    The city of Rock Hill is doing its part with free swimming lessons to help ensure that children have a chance to learn this valuable skill before they venture into the water.

In a perfect world, everyone would know how to swim. We don’t live in a perfect world, but the city of Rock Hill is doing what it can to make this corner of the world a little safer and more fun by providing free swimming lessons during the summer.

York, Chester and Lancaster counties offer endless sites for recreation in and on the water, from lakes to rivers to swimming pools. That means that tens of thousands of area residents and visitors will be fishing, boating and swimming in the three-county area this summer.

Unfortunately, many of them, people of all ages, can’t swim. Some non-swimmers are adults who venture out onto lakes and ponds in boats, thinking they don’t need to know how to swim.

Others might be youngsters who are brimming with self-confidence and have little fear of the water. They are likely to dive in with no hesitation, unaware of the hazards of deeper water.

Still others might be adolescents or teens who know they can’t swim but are afraid to let their peers know it. They, too, are in danger of getting in over their heads.

The summer swimming program sponsored by the Rock Hill Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has a solution for all these non-swimmers. The program has provided free swimming lessons for people of all ages each summer for years.

The emphasis, naturally, is on young children. The sooner they learn the basics of staying afloat, the better.

But the program also is open to adults who never learned to swim or who need a refresher course.

The classes, which are run by U.S. Aquatics, has about 50 employees working at the city’s pools. Despite numerous teachers and both morning and afternoon classes, registration for spots in this year’s program filled up in about four hours.

That’s good news, of course, but also an indication that both the need and the interest is high. Thankfully, the YMCA and the Rock Hill school district have partnered to provide swimming lessons to children during the school year as well.

Most of us know of children or teens who drowned because they followed their friends into the water without knowing how to swim. Most also have heard of adults who drowned after falling overboard on a fishing or boating trip because they couldn’t swim.

In both situations, life preservers or inflatable water wings might not be enough to ensure one’s safety. We can’t emphasize enough that actually being able to swim – even if it’s just a rudimentary dog paddle – can be a lifesaver.

With backyard pools, thousands of homes near Lake Wylie, summer vacations at the beach and other ways area residents are in proximity to water, learning to swim has to be a priority. We are grateful to the city of Rock Hill for its summer swimming classes.

City officials say that, over the years, the program has taught thousands of kids to swim. No telling how many lives it has saved.

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